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HomeWorldNigeria v Ivory Coast: Africa Cup of Nations final – live

Nigeria v Ivory Coast: Africa Cup of Nations final – live


Key events

49 min Gradel is fouled just outside the area on the right by Zaidu, who got the ball but went through Gradel to get there.

47 min Osimhen, scrapping alone as he has all night, is fouled by Ndicka in the centre circle. He’s so good at making something out of any old filth that is booted up to him. If the scores stays like this, there will be plenty of that in the second half.

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46 min Peep peep! Ivory Coast begin the second half, hoping/aiming/praying to come from behind for the third time in the knockout stages.

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More on the subject of funky boots

Geoff Wignall “I’m not clear on what counts as funky footwear and I’m sure Alan Ball’s white boots weren’t described as such 50 plus years ago; but they did attract comment – not all of it complimentary.”

Kim Thonger “George Best’s side-laced boots were literally groundbreaking. I did child labour overtime to earn my pair.”

Half-time (and possibly post-match) entertainment

Half time: Nigeria 1-0 Ivory Coast

For the umpteenth time in the tournament, the hosts Ivory Coast have an uncomfortably good view from the precipice. They played the better football in a poor first half, but didn’t create any clear chances and went behind to a carpe diem header from the Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong.

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45+4 min A wobbling long-range drive from Fofana is calmly dealt with by Nwabali.

45+1 min Iwobi tries to release the marauding Zaidu, who is cynically flattened off the ball by the flailing arm of Seri. That should have been at least a free-kick, probably a yellow card and maybe even a red. The referee missed it.

45 min Osimhen is receiving treatment after an awkward landing. He’s okay to continue, at least until half-time. There are four minutes of added time.

44 min Haller’s through pass is too heavy for Kessie. Ivory Coast have been much the better team between the boxes, but that counts for nothing when the coast is toast. (As things stand.)

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43 min “I think Stylo Matchmakers were the original flashy football boots, famously worn by both George Best and Pelé,” says Kári Tulinius. “But according to the Stylo Matchmakers website, the first player to endorse the brand was Celtic and Leeds legend Bobby Collins.”

41 min There’s a break in play after a clash of heads between Kessie and Bassey.

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That’s a mighty header from William Troost-Ekong. Lookman’s corner from the left was headed up in the air by Chukwueze at the near post. There was no pace on the ball as it dropped, but Troost-Ekong towered over Aurier, strained his neck muscles and powered a looping header over Fofana.

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GOAL! Nigeria 1-0 Ivory Coast (Troost-Ekong 38)

The captain has given Nigeria the lead with their first attempt on target!

William Troost-Ekong climbs highest to head Nigeria into the lead! Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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37 min A slightly heavy touch from Zainu allows Kossounou to get across and block his shot at the expense of a corner. But that was a more promising attack from Nigeria.

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34 min: Good save by Nwabali! That was the best chance so far. A poor ball out of defence from Bassey was intercepted and Ivory Coast pounced. Kessie swept a fine angled pass through to Adingra, in all kinds of space on the left side of the area. He took a touch and belted a shot that was pushed away by the diving Nwabali. The angle was pretty tight so it wasn’t the hardest save Nwabali ever make. But he saved it. What more do you want?

Simon Adingra goes close with an effort. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

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30 min Nwabali springs from his line to beat Adingra to a through pass. At the moment it’s a poor game. Ivory Coast are at least trying to score; I’m not sure what Nigeria are up to.

Time for a cooling break.

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30 min “Good game so far,” says Kim Thonger. “I like the way Cote D’Ivoire are taking the initiative, and in particular their brave boot choices. Orange socks with dayglo yellow boots sported by Evan N’Dicka and equally confident pink boots paraded by Odilon Kossounou. Men with such positive colour attitudes deserve to win trophies!”

Who was the first player to wear funky boots at the highest level?

27 min Osimhen is penalised for another challenge, after which the Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro gives the fourth official a mouthful. He’s booked.

26 min Osimhen goes looking for a row with Ndicka, claiming he’s been elbowed. Ndicka caught him with an arm as they jumped for a high ball but it didn’t look deliberate. The referee calms everything down.

22 min Ivory Coast lead 5-0 on attempts on goal, though the only save Nwabali has had to make was routine.

21 min Adingra’s corner is headed down by Ndicka at the far post. It hits a Nigeria defender and bounced towards Gradel, whose overhead kick hits the side netting. That was half a chance (in the traditional sense of the phrase; it was probably closer to 0.1 on xG than 0.5).

20 min A nervous backheader from Zaidu goes behind for an Ivory Coast corner. It could have been worse because Gradel read it and almost intercepted; had he done so he’d have been through on goal.

19 min Four of the last nine Afcon finals have gone to penalties after a 0-0 draw.

In other news, this game has started very cagily.

17 min Nigeria’s first attack of note ends when Lookman’s cross is headed away.

14 min Fofana’s long-range shot is easily saved by Nwabali. Nigeria haven’t settled yet.

12 min Ivory Coast are playing with eye-catching intensity, and Aina shanks Gradel’s dipping cross over his own bar.

8 min Adingra is looking sharp. He teases Aina on the left edge of the area, gets a lucky bounce and slaps the ball over the bar from a tight angle.

7 min: Chance for Haller! Adingra cuts inside from the left and curls a routine cross towards the near post. Haller gets across Troost-Ekong before flicking the ball across goal and wide. It was a tough chance on the stretch.

6 min Ivory Coast win the first corner of the game on the right. Gradel takes, Iwobi heads clear.

4 min It’s been a cagey start, particularly from Nigeria. Nothing to report so far.

Serge Aurier in action with Nigeria’s Ademola Lookman. Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

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1 min Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Nigeria kick off from right to left as we watch.

The atmosphere is spectacular; of course it jolly well is. The hosts are one game away from a tournament win like no other. One or two host nations have won their tournament after blundering through the group stages, but I can’t think of any who sacked their manager en route.

“That Volcano movie looks awful!” says Joe Pearson, pretending he didn’t see it at the cinema, twice. “And yet it features Oscar-winner Tommy Lee Jones, Emmy winner Anne Heche, Oscar nominee Don Cheadle, and all-time great Keith David. Even the good ones make bad choices. Like me and that time I [redacted].”

There’s no need to redact the fact you paid to see Volcano, twice.

Things are hotting up in Abidjan! Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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As the players assemble in the tunnel, here’s a reminder of the teams.

Nigeria (3-4-3) Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Aina, Onyeka, Iwobi, Zaidu; Chukwueze, Osimhen, Lookman.
Substitutes: Uzoho, Yusuf, Musa, Aribo, Samuel, Iheanacho, Simon, Onuachu, Awaziem, Omeruo, Moffi, Nwadike.

Ivory Coast (4-3-3) Y Fofana; Aurier, Kossounou, Ndicka, Konan; Kessie, Seri, S Fofana; Gradel, Haller, Adingra.
Substitutes: Diomande, Singo, Bamba, Krasso, Boga, Diakite, I Sangare, Pepe, Kouame, B Sangare, Diallo, Lazare.

Referee Dahane Beida (Mauritania).

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“At the end of the group stage, I thought for sure that the hosts were Ivory Toast,” says Peter Oh, who has been watching that bloody film again, but here they are on the cusp of being the toast of the continent!”

Some of the best images from a very enjoyable tournament

“Excited about this final and the crazy path Ivory Coast has travelled to get here,” writes Joe Pearson. “Now I only have to decide what streamer to subscribe to for a day so I can watch. At the moment, I have Caitlin Clark and Iowa on the tv. Good god, what a talent! Reminds me of Larry Bird. Anyway, not sure you can wrestle a Sopranos reference out of all of this, but I have faith.”

From memory Ralphie and Vito played basketball in one episode. But knowing the mouth on Ralphie, if I post that clip I’ll probably be sacked before kick-off. Mind you, that might be a fitting way to end the tournament.

Jonathan Wilson’s final preview

Team news

Nigeria make two changes from the semi-final against South Africa. Zaidu Sanusi replaces Bright Samuel at wing-back and Samuel Chukwueze comes in for Moses Simon on the right wing.

Ivory Coast also make two changes. The captain Serge Aurier and Odilon Kossounou replace Wilfried Singo and Willy Boly in defence.

Nigeria (3-4-3) Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Aina, Onyeka, Iwobi, Zaidu; Chukwueze, Osimhen, Lookman.
Substitutes: Uzoho, Yusuf, Musa, Aribo, Samuel, Iheanacho, Simon, Onuachu, Awaziem, Omeruo, Moffi, Nwadike.

Ivory Coast (4-3-3) Y Fofana; Aurier, Kossounou, Ndicka, Konan; Kessie, Seri, S Fofana; Gradel, Haller, Adingra.
Substitutes: Diomande, Singo, Bamba, Krasso, Boga, Diakite, I Sangare, Pepe, Kouame, B Sangare, Diallo, Lazare.

Referee Dahane Beida (Mauritius).

Preamble

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Ivory Coast in Abidjan. Twenty-five days ago, in the 87th minute of his side’s final group game, Zambia’s Emmanuel Banda whistled a rising drive from 25 yards that was dramatically tipped over the bar by the Morocco keeper Bono. Had it gone in, Zambia would have qualified as one of the best third-placed teams and the hosts Ivory Coast – who had already sacked their manager Jean-Louis Gasset – would have gone out in disgrace.

Instead they sneaked through to the knockout stages, where they dodged several bullets against Senegal and Mali before beating DR Congo in the semi-finals. Now they, and their caretaker manager Emerse Fae, are one game away from a peculiarly glorious triumph.

During the tournament Ivory Coast have been behind for 194 minutes, including 35 in a group-stage defeat to tonight’s opponents, and ahead for 115. Nigeria have been ahead for 225 and behind for only 2 – but they had an almighty escape of their own when South Africa’s Khuliso Mudau missed an injury-time sitter to win the semi-final.

So, whose destiny is it anyway? We’re about to find out. Either Nigeria will join Ghana on four titles, behind only Egypt and Cameroon, or Ivory Coast will join Nigeria on three.

Kick off 8pm.

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